|09LILONGWE445||2009-08-11 15:44:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Lilongwe|
R 111544Z AUG 09 FM AMEMBASSY LILONGWE TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0678 INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L LILONGWE 000445
1.(U) SUMMARY: In an initial courtesy call with new Foreign
Minister Etta Banda, the Ambassador highlighted U.S.
assistance in the health and agricultural sectors as well as
the 300 million USD in Millennium Challenge (MCC) funds in
the pipeline for the energy and transport sectors. He
praised Malawi's May 2009 elections, commenting that the
process helped institutionalize the country's young
democracy. The pair also discussed the delayed deployment of
Malawian troops to the UN peacekeeping mission in Chad.
Minister Banda conveyed President Mutharika's appreciation
for U.S. assistance and confirmed that the MFA is engaged in
a review of Malawi's foreign policy. END SUMMARY.
2. (U) The Ambassador, accompanied by the DCM, paid a
courtesy call on recently-appointed Minister of Foreign
Affairs (Professor) Etta Banda August 4 to discuss how the
U.S. and Malawi can maintain their positive relationship.
Etta Banda was appointed to the President's cabinet in June
of this year and is an active member of the National
Governing Council of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
She earned a masters degree in Community Health from Boston
University and pursued graduate studies at the University of
Maryland. She is a registered nurse and has worked
previously as a Child Health Advisor for Management Sciences
for Health, an international NGO.
3. (U) The Ambassador congratulated Minister Banda on her
appointment. He described the positive relationship between
the U.S. and Malawi, and highlighted U.S. assistance in the
health and agricultural sectors. He noted that Malawi was
the first country to sign a PEPFAR partnership framework, and
that an MCC compact would mean 300 million USD for the
country's energy and transport sectors. The Ambassador added
that the U.S. wanted to support President Mutharika's Green
Belt Initiative, which seeks to increase the amount of land
under irrigation. Ambassador offered USG expertise to assist
with the initiative.
4. (U) The Ambassador also mentioned US support to Malawi
during the lead-up to the May 2009 elections. He added that
the elections had helped to institutionalize democracy, and
that Malawi was quickly becoming an African success story.
5. (U) The Ambassador raised the issue of the Malawian
Defense Force battalion's delayed deployment to the UN
operation in Chad. He explained that the battalion needed an
additional 15 million USD in equipment to meet UN standards.
Citing extensive U.S. training and equipment support of the
planned deployment, the Ambassador urged the Minister to help
find a way to finance the shortfall in equipment. He argued
that the deployment of the battalion would provide an
opportunity for Malawi to contribute to UN efforts and raise
the country's profile in the international arena. The
Minister agreed with this assessment and said she would look
into the issue.
6. (U) Minister Banda noted that she and her ministry were
in a learning period. She indicated she would like to build
the capacity of her diplomatic work force and welcomed any
help from the USG to further develop her staff
professionally. The Ambassador indicated he would seek ways
to support her ministry's development. Minister Banda
praised the strong bilateral partnership, and conveyed
President Bingu wa Mutharika's appreciation for USG support
to Malawi's development.
7. (C) COMMENT: Minister Banda appears to enjoy President
Mutharika's confidence, but her limited international affairs
experience means a steep learning curve. She does bring a
long and positive association with the United States to her
position. Post will work closely with her to ensure a
positive working relationship as well as to assist Banda in
the professional development of her Ministry. END COMMENT.